NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 3, 2013

Nock cast unites 'In the Heights'

Musical melds theme of family with school's new Spanish program

NEWBURYPORT — “In the Heights,” the Tony Award-winning musical that tackles the powerful universal themes of family and community, comes to the Rupert A. Nock Middle School auditorium tomorrow through Saturday.

Middle school teacher Mike Pirollo said in a press release that the upbeat score and hip-hop choreography make “In the Heights” more relatable to today’s youth than “classic” musicals like “The Music Man.” Set in the Dominican-American Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, “In the Heights” depicts the struggles and dreams of characters over a three-day holiday weekend. The vibrant community is on the brink of change and so, too, are many of the characters.

When rights to the show became available for school productions in 2012, Pirollo said he jumped at the chance to bring the production to the Nock community.

“I knew that the show’s overall message would speak to middle school kids,” he said. “They’re all struggling to figure out who they are as individuals and where they belong, but it’s still important to keep that connection to home.”

With the re-introduction of Spanish at the middle school this year, Pirollo and other faculty members also felt that “In the Heights” would be an opportunity to reinforce the importance of learning a new language since 40 percent of the show is in Spanish.

“The current crop of Nock students hasn’t had exposure to Spanish, or any foreign language, since they started elementary school,” said Jacqueline Fricano, the school’s new Spanish teacher who has been working with cast members to teach the correct pronunciation of the Spanish words used in the script and lyrics.

Fricano and several guest speakers have also spent time explaining Hispanic-American culture, such as the importance of the “abuela,” or grandmother, to the family structure. “We made an effort to immerse our students in a culture most are not familiar with,” Pirollo said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Special Features